I get a common question about people getting fatter when they are doing a lot of cardio. I get this all the time surprisingly. It is a strange question when you think about it because the more you run the leaner you should be right? Well not exactly, and I think I get asked this a lot because the people are so frustrated they do not know what to do. Cardio is a complicated thing, and it is not just about going for a long run and burning off tons of fat.
Think about this scenario. Say we live in a paleolithic environment. We hunt, pick, gather, and fish for out food. Other than that we will get wood for a fire, maybe fix up wherever you are living, and maybe do something else that needs to be done. None of this stuff evolves running. Our natural ancestors would only run when they were in danger. If a tiger was coming at them they would take off the other way, but what else would they run for. When you are hunting you do not sprint at the deer, you sneak up on it. So the typical response to running is an increase in cortisol because you are being chased by a tiger.
Back To Today
Now today’s world is quite a different story. We no longer need to gather, fish, pluck, or hunt for our food, we do not need to fix up our shelter, and we do not need to gather wood to stay warm. Instead we are bogged down with everyday stress that involves financial stability, relationships, and of course our health(tons of toxins). We still have the same response to everything, but we go through a completely different range of problems then our ancestors. Our response is still the same. We increase cortisol in our body. We are not running from a tiger anymore, but we still get the cortisol.
Since we already have a larger loud of cortisol than our ancestors, and then we run, it can create problems. One of the problems with having to much cortisol in the system is losing weight. Now before you get excited and try to increase your stress levels to reach your weight loss goal, let me tell you what happens farther down the road. Cortisol will make you lose weight because it is a catabolic hormone meaning it breaks down your body. What it breaks down is your muscle tissue which is what keeps your metabolism going. When people are doing to much cardio they are increasing their cortisol levels breaking down their muscles. This then lowers their metabolism, and then unless they continue to do more and more cardio they will begin to put on weight.
It is a bad system to get into, but it is an easy one to fix. If you are doing to much cardio you need to either stop it all together, or you need to switch to an interval system. I only do cardio when I am trying to lose weight and when I do it is only high intensity interval training for a maximum of 15 minutes. Since we are not active like our ancestors we still need exercise. This is were weight lifting comes in. Weight lifting 3-5 times a week is great for your health. It will give you the same benefits as cardio, but remember this. When you weight lift you got to put effort into it. I see so many people at the gym just going through the motions. This is not going to work. You need to work, you need to break a sweat, and you need to be constantly improving in strength or endurance or you need to change your weight lifting routine.
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Greg Cook is a certified personal trainer that owns and operates Don’t Stop Training